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How to make a beach trip safe for seniors

When you decide to live in Florida it’s most likely because you love the beach. You try to get out there as often as you can, and it never gets old! You can fish, swim, read a book, take a nap (under an umbrella with lots of sunscreen on!). The beach is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

It’s a shame when you can’t take advantage of a beautiful sunny day. This is something many seniors must consider. The sun and sand are essential parts of the beach (what is a beach without them?). But those two elements make these areas dangerous for seniors and the elderly.

How can we make the beach safer for our senior friends and family members?

What to bring?

When you’re planning a trip to the beach with an elderly loved one, you will need a few extra items you might not normally bring. First of all, make sure they have on sneakers, loose fitting, light clothes to block the sun, and have on tons of sunscreen. Bring a hat and sunglasses to protect the face and eyes.

It’s a good idea to bring a cooler to keep water nice and cold all day long. Also, bring along a portable, battery-operated fan. These can be found at convenience stores and are a great way to provide a little breeze if there isn’t any that day.

Bring along enough food to last the time you will be there. Even an Ensure or other protein-filled drink is a good idea to provide maximum nutrients.

Battling the Sand

Before you can ever worry about what to do at the beach, you have to worry about actually walking onto it. The sand, for many of us, is just an uneven surface we plod through to get to our destination. For seniors, the sand can prove hazardous, especially for those that lack the mobility to get through it. Sand is difficult even for the fully able-bodied person.

How can you make it easier for seniors to get through the sand? First, pick a beach that will require as short a walk as possible. Don’t pick the beach where you have to trek a quarter of a mile in order to get away from the masses.

Next, make sure they are wearing sneakers. Nobody likes sand in their shoes, but sneakers will ensure that there aren’t any footwear issues.

Be sure to provide support as they walk. Have someone on either side helping them up just in case of any missteps.

The last way to solve this problem is to get a beach wheelchair (yes they’re a thing). Beach wheelchairs feature large wheels that are designed just for getting through sand. This is the safest way to get your loved one down to the beach.

Beating the Heat & Sun

As mentioned above, be sure your loved one is wearing the proper sun-protecting gear. This includes sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, loose fitting shirt and pants, and sneakers. If it is much too hot for long sleeves and pants, opt for shorts and a short-sleeve shirt.

You will also need an umbrella that they can comfortably sit under throughout the day. Every two hours you will need to reapply sunscreen to ensure it won’t wear off.

It probably isn’t a great idea to spend the next 6 hours at the beach. About 2 hours may be a good amount of time. Because as we age, our skin becomes more and more sensitive especially to the sunlight. We must be cautious of this when we plan trips to the beach.

 

There you have it! Some simple tips to help get your senior friends and family members out to the beach with you.


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How to Stay Safe in the Sun

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It’s important for us all to consider sun safety, especially living in Southwest Florida. It is even more important for the young and older generations to be concerned about this. As we age, our skin becomes less and less robust, thereby becoming fragile and in need of extra care. If you are older, you have probably noticed that small bumps into the table lead to bruises. Whereas somebody younger likely doesn’t see this effect.

If you plan to head out into the sun, please take these precautions to stay safe!

Clothing
I know it’s hot out there by the beach, or out gardening, or going for a walk. But it’s important to ensure your clothing will protect your skin. Clothing is the best way to protect, as it can shield you from UV rays. Dry shirts are better than wet, darker colors are better than light. If you can, wear long sleeves and long pants, or a skirt, for maximum protection. If this is too much, wear a t-shirt or cover up.

Shade
If you plan to sit out at the beach, bring an umbrella, or seek a shady spot. The shade will not keep you completely protected, so you also need to have the proper clothes and sunscreen.

Sunscreen
Now that you have your shady spot, and some protective clothes, it’s time to lather on the sunscreen. Your sunscreen should be at least SPF 15. Even if it is cloudy, those rays can still get through to your skin. If you plan to be outside a few hours, you will need to reapply the sunscreen for maximum effect. It may also be good to find a lip balm with at least SPF 15 to protect your lips as well. Don’t forget any part of your skin, like the tops of your feet, areas around the bathing suit, neck, ears.
EPA- Sunscreen Facts

Hat
Many of us can forget to protect our heads during a day out in the sun. And not many of us want to put sunscreen on our scalps, which can get in our hair. Hats are a great way to shield your head, and neck and provide shade to your face. Try not to get a straw hat, as the holes will allow the sun’s rays to get through.

Sunglasses
You may think you can see just fine without them, but they’re important for protecting your eyes against UV rays. They also help reduce the risk of cataracts. Find sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.

Take the Sun Safety IQ quiz from the American Cancer Society to see how sun-safe you are.